Hard Start Devices

kickstart-groupHard start devices extend the life of compressors considerably by bringing them up to full speed much more quickly and efficiently. They also assist compressors in starting under very adverse ambient conditions such as low voltage or high head pressures.

Before 1989, the only starting devices that were approved and recommended by compressor and equipment manufacturers consisted of a potential relay (as dictated by the compressor make and model) connected by multiple wires to a start capacitor (also dictated by the compressor make and model). With 365 different relay/capacitor combinations possible (73 potential relays x 5 start capacitors), HVACR contractors who wanted to be ready for any trouble-shooting situation were forced to carry multiple types of relays and multiple types of start capacitors in their service vehicles, which then had to be wired together with three wires by the contractor himself – a cumbersome, time consuming, and costly necessity.

Then, in 1989, Kickstart® hard start devices arrived in the marketplace. At first glance, Kickstart® hard start devices appear to be no different than the multitude of two-wire start-assists that have been on the market since the early 80’s. But a closer look reveals a high-quality potential relay combined with a high-quality start capacitor. It is this “true” potential relay that distinguishes the Kickstart® brand of hard start devices from other starting devices that still use timers, PTCR devices, or circuit boards. It is the unique patented design that allows a single potential relay to replace the multiple potential relay inventories without sacrificing quality.

Kickstart® devices are the only two-wire start devices that utilize a potential relay along with the start capacitor. While other two-wire start devices also utilize start capacitors, they generally incorporate either a heat sensing device or a timer to determine when to take the capacitor out of the starting circuit. Air conditioning and refrigeration compressor manufacturers require a potential relay in combination with the start capacitor when specifying starting devices for their equipment. This is because they recognize the potential relay’s unique ability to disconnect the capacitor from the circuit at the precise moment that it is no longer needed. Any longer period of time causes damage to the compressor windings, and any shorter period of time does not provide the assistance the compressor requires, which can also cause damage.

In addition to the normal cycling (i.e. starting and stopping) that a compressor does to maintain a certain degree of coolness in a home, there are times when children or even adults will adjust the thermostat too frequently, causing a “short-cycling” effect. This effect can also be caused by lightning, momentary power outages, etc. “InstantTM recycle” refers to the ability of a hard start device to assist the compressor in starting regardless of the required frequency of starts. Unless a hard start device has the ability to instantly recycle, it may not be available to assist the compressor when short-cycling conditions exist which can create an extreme strain on the compressor windings and lead to compressor damage.

To illustrate, many two-wire devices need time to cool down or re-set after they have operated. This is because they typically use either a heat sensing device or a timer to determine when the start capacitor should be taken out of the starting circuit. It is important to note that these devices must complete their “cycle” before they are again ready to operate. Unfortunately, the time required for these devices to cool down or re-set may not coincide with the starting demands placed on the compressor. Kickstart® hard start devices utilizes true potential relays that have the unique ability to instantly recycle without delay no matter how quickly or frequently the compressor is required to start.